Department of Behavioural Sciences Mentoring and Research Cluster (MARC)

Academic climates can reinforce competitiveness and individualized agendas (Casadevall & Fang, 2012), with little time for and willingness of staff to engage graduate students beyond the parameters of teaching and project and/or thesis supervision. An important bridge therefore is that of augmenting graduate training programmes with mentoring opportunities that deepen independent thinking and productive exchange (Galbraith, 2003). Key benefits here are those of supporting novice researchers to cope with the pressures of their programmes, acquire new knowledge, research techniques, and networks (Paglis et al., 2006; Badiali & Titus, 2010), while building on their personal, academic and professional success (Bova, 2000; Komarraju et al., 2010).

Our mentoring and research cluster (MARC) is centered on building positive spaces for the mutual engagement of both staff and students. As a recently formed group within the Department of Behavioural Sciences, (The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus), MARC seeks to foster a culture of mentorship through research. Using an interdisciplinary framework, MARC offers a collaborative space for exploring diverse perspectives and insights within the examination of social phenomena. As a way of deepening this experience, the groups within the cluster also hope to engage various stakeholders on the possibilities for using emerging data to expand existing sensitization/awareness initiatives, empowerment programmes, and activism agendas.  

At this point, there are three key projects within the cluster; namely, the IPV-3R Response project, the psychological research lab, and the police research group.

Group 1: IPV-3R Response Project

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a pressing, yet, under-examined issue with rising cases of within Trinidad and Tobago. The intention for this group therefore is that of gathering multiple sources of data, which can be used to (re)visit, (re)frame and (re)educate on matters related to Intimate Partner Relations (IPR) in Trinidad and Tobago.  

Scope of Work

  • to prepare and execute a research plan that examines some of the factors affecting IPV in the context of Trinidad and Tobago 
  • to apply for research funding  
  • to raise the level of sensitization around this issues; both within academic and non-academic settings 
  • to network and collaborate with key stakeholders in the formation of evidence based interventions that counter the sources and effects of IPV. 
  • to evaluate the sources of conflict within these relationships (across different types of situations), and, to recommend strategies for reframing Intimate Partner Relationships
  • to support graduate students whose research are built on the examination of IPV

Project Team

  • Chair-Dr. Talia Esnard, Sociologist & Department Head-
  • Co-Chair-Dr. Shelene Gomes-Lecturer (Sociology & Anthropology) -
  • Dr. Christine Descartes, Lecturer (Psychology)
  • Miss Anne Diaz-Instructor (Mediation Studies) & Mediator 
  • Dr. Wendell Wallace-Lecturer (Criminology & Criminal Justice), Lawyer, & Mediator
  • Ms Raquel Sukhu (Gender Specialist) 
  • Haymatee Jaleel-PhD Sociology candidate
  • Nirmal Maraj-Bsc. & Msc. Sociology 
  • Chelsea Sinanan-Msc Sociology Student 
  • Robyn Baran-Msc Sociology Student 
  • Sherece Boodoo-Msc Sociology Student 
  • Amanda Chin Pang-Msc Sociology Student 
  • Rosa Castello-Msc Sociology Student 

Group 2: Psychology Research Lab

The main purpose of the Psychology Research Lab is to create a space that brings together academic staff and graduate students where they can explore pertinent contemporary research areas in Psychology, in order to narrow the gap in the Caribbean literature and produce research that is more applicable and relevant to the region. 

The Psychology Research Lab was established to foster a community that encourages greater staff-student research collaborations with a focus on graduate students’ research interests beyond those, which satisfy degree requirements. The research lab offers students the opportunity to collaborate with each other as graduate students, to develop multi-perspective research. 

The lab was also established to offer in-depth mentoring and coaching of graduate students so they can develop and solidify their research skills, critical thinking abilities and embark on their journey toward publications, while also fostering fruitful professional relationships. Guided by members of the psychology unit, graduate students, gain insight and new knowledge about the research process, publication requirements/options, as well as, opportunities to attend regional and international conferences.

The following are the Members:

  • Dr. Christine Descartes- Lecturer, Psychology (Chair) -
  • Mr. Harold Pulwarty- Instructor, Psychology (Co-Chair) -
  • Prof. Derek Chadee-Psychology
  • Dr. Heather Hollingsworth- Assistant Lecturer, Lecturer
  • Mrs. Felicia Frederick-Davis - Instructor and PhD Psychology Candidate
  • Ms. Mala Ramesar- PhD Psychology Candidate
  • Ms. Delia Brito- PhD Psychology Candidate
  • Mr. Dylan De Gourville- MSc Psychology candidate
  • Dr. Andre Toussaint-Postdoctoral Research Associate, Zuckerman Institute, Columbia University
  • Mr. Steve Dwarika-Administrative Staff

Group 3: Police Research Group (PRG)

The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Police Research Group (UWISA-PRG): Aims, Purpose and Ethos.  The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine have recognised the need to create and maintain a strong working relationship with our police departments throughout the Caribbean. This is achieved through the creation of The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Policing Research Group (UWISA-PRG). This new partnership functions in a coordinated and integrated manner with the aim of providing key linkages between Caribbean policing scholars and local, regional and international police practitioners. 

The formation of the UWISA-PRG is premised on several different, but inter-related factors. First, there is a space for this group due to the plethora of policing issues plaguing local, regional, and international police departments. Second, there is a window of opportunity for the UWISA-PRG (practitioners and academics) working collaboratively in the context of research, training and outreach activities as these efforts can have meaningful impact on police departments and academic communities. Third, the UWISA-PRG is a much needed addition to the academic landscape as efforts will be focused on this area by emerging and established academics and this has benefits and implications for policing. 

Overall purpose  

Devise and regularly review research strategies that will be made available for use by policing scholars across The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine and thus contribute to the delivery of impactful and insightful policing research.    Receive, discuss and evaluate proposals for research made by members of the UWISAPRG in accordance with the research strategy mentioned above and assist in the conduct.

Facilitate the conduct of research, training, outreach, and consultancies where possible.   Act as a conduit for information between policing experts, policing practitioners, NGOs and communities in need of assistance.  Address policing issues that may need attention and, or clarification in the media.

Network of Contacts

Develop (and where already in place) expand existing relationships between academics from The University of the West Indies, representatives from other Universities, Ministries of National Security, and police departments.   Partner with a range of relevant agencies, for example, Neighbourhood Watch Groups, Youth Groups, Village Councils, and Police Youth Clubs.


Foster research partnerships between academics and police practitioners.  Co-produce scholarship and impactful research that is both timely and topical.  Conduct research through partnerships that will appraise local, regional, and international policing issues.

Dissemination of information

Showcase high quality research on policing conducted by academics at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine and elsewhere.  Disseminate information about the production of high quality research to local police audiences and the media, particularly where it is relevant to debates about policing.  Contribute towards evidence-based local policing practices through the forming of research partnerships and through knowledge exchange and facilitated forms of knowledge dissemination.  Share information on events, upcoming conferences, data, completed research, and proposed research.  Share information with local, regional, and international legislators on policing issues as requested.

Training and Consultations

Conduct training sessions on areas that are of concern to police practitioners as well as community members based on the skill set of members of the UWISA-PRG.  Conduct guest lectures at Schools, Colleges, Universities, and other places of interest.  Conduct consultations on policing as and when needed.

Membership and Structure

General Members of the UWISA-PRG group shall retain their individual status and need not produce collaborative articles.  Members of the UWISA-PRG will operate in an objective, non-partisan manner and shall not allow personal biases, political affiliation and, or personal motives to cloud their academic judgment.  Members of the UWISA-PRG shall produce research that follows ethical guidelines as established at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.   Research conducted and published by UWISA-PRG shall be sensitive and non-inflammatory.  Members of the UWISA-PRG should not engage in research or conduct that is prejudicial to any individual or group of individuals based on their age, gender, ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, and, or sexual orientation. 

The Chair of the UWISA-PRG (2020-2022)-Dr. Wendell C. Wallace, Deputy Dean, Distance Education and Outreach, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.

The Deputy Chair of the UWISA-PRG (2020-2022) is Dr. Malisa Neptune-Figaro, Department of Behavioural Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine -

Members are as follows:

  • Dr. Wendell C. Wallace (Chair)
  • Dr. Malisa Neptune-Figaro (Deputy Chair)
  • Miss Keel County 
  • Mr. Danny Carr
  • Mrs. Zola Phillips-Pilgrim
  • Miss Michelle Richardson
  • Dr. Keron King
  • Mr. Sheridon Hill
  • Mrs. Karen Lancaster-Ellis
  • Mr. Russel Mason
  • Dr. Bennie Berkeley
  • Miss Charisma Ramsubhag

Group 4: The Migration and Displacement Mentorship and Research Group

The Mentorship and Research Group on Migration and Displacement is dedicated to advancing the study of international migration and displacement, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities and promoting public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of displaced populations, migrants, refugees and newcomers. The Group supports research, outreach and teaching focused on issues related to migration and displacement. The group is multi-disciplinary and draws from academics, researchers, and postgraduate students from the fields of Anthropology, Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, Criminology and Mediation Studies. The work of the group includes fostering collaborative partnerships with stakeholder organisations and displaced communities to generate research and inform relevant policy and practice.


Mixed migration and forced displacement are amongst the defining global issues of the early twenty-first century. Recent migration trends illustrate the overwhelming increase in mixed migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, ‘stateless’ persons and children-on-the-move. Historically, migration has influenced the socio-economic development within the region, with the Caribbean representing source, transit and final destination of migrants. The Caribbean has been known as a source of migration, with individuals and families leaving the region for a number of reasons, including those in search of improved economic, social and living conditions. However, recent migration trends indicate that the Caribbean is experiencing high amounts of inter-regional migration due to environmental disasters and is a transit and destination for refugees and asylum seekers moving away from harsh economic and political systems in neighbouring countries such as Venezuela. 

The recent trends in migration suggest the need for policy-oriented and empirical research and analysis that will contribute to a better understanding of the multidimensional aspects of migration and inform migration policies and intervention at the national, regional and international levels.

The Mentorship and Research Group brings together academics, researchers, graduate students and stakeholders, whose research touches on diverse themes around migration and displacement. Our work investigates the lived experiences of all forms of migrants and policies and practice interventions relating to migration and displacement.

The key foci of the Mentorship and Research Group include exploring:

  • Causes, consequences, and experiences of migration and displacement
  • Forced migration and refugee issues
  • Migration in/from the global South
  • Environment, food security and migration/displacement
  • Gender, the family and migration
  • Migrant / minority rights, vulnerability and mobilisation
  • Groups/ issues of interest, including refugees and asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and children-on-the-move and human trafficking
  • Transnational movement and crime


  • Dr. Cheryl-Ann S. Boodram (Chair)
  • Dr. Anand Rampersad (Deputy Chair)
  • Dr. Malissa Neptune-Figaro
  • Dr. Shelene Gomes
  • Dr. Camille Huggins
  • Ms. Ann Diaz
  • Dr. Maria Gomes (Retired)
  • Mr. Nathan Chapman (PhD candidate, Sociology)
  • Ms. Kareina Mohammed (MSc. Sociology; PhD candidate, sociology)
  • Ms. Cherie Lewis (MSc. student Mediation Studies)
  • Karyn Audroing (MSc. student, Mediation Studies)
  • Ms. Chery Lewis (MPhil Social Policy candidate, SALISES)

Group 5: Child and Youth Research Group (CAY-RG) 

On a global scale, there has been a marked shift in the philosophical underpinnings guiding research and social interventions designed to support young persons. We have certainly witnessed a gradual shift in the literature and discourse on youth development with a general movement away from the use of deficit perspectives of youth, to more right based and positive development approaches. Despite this global push, there continues to be a lack of research, specifically for the Caribbean region, on the experiences, challenges, and strategies for supporting youth; whether at an institutional or broader societal level. There is also a lack of comparative knowledge on the structural disadvantages that affect young persons in the region, on how they transition into adulthood, and, on the specific strategies that aid in their general wellbeing. The lack of information, knowledge of youth, and on the processes used to inform existing practices and policies related to youth work, are indeed critical gaps in our advancement of Caribbean scholarship and practice. While we offer a Msc Child and Youth Studies in the Department of Behavioural Sciences, we have recognised that this programme is not enough to advance this field. It is against this background that we have put together this research group, with the following mandates:

  • Sensitizing students and the wider society on critical matters related to positive youth development
  • Broadening the conversation on the experiences and challenges related to adolescence and the strategies that help to address these
  • Building on the knowledge/scholarship of youth development work for the Caribbean
  • Developing a cadre of professionals whose work add to the advancement of this field
  • Contributing to the professionalization of youth work 
  • Generating relevant research that feed into evidence-based interventions
  • Creating awareness around the various philosophical perspectives and conceptual approaches (existing and emerging) which inform youth wor

This research group advances both research and advocacy around youth work. In so doing, the group builds on limited research on youth development in the Caribbean and adds to needed sensitizations on the specific realities, challenges, and opportunities for young persons in the region. Part of this work therefore involves a partnership approach with key stakeholders involved in youth development work and the advancement of research for and by young people.

The establishment of this research group is consistent with the conclusions, recommendations and youth development priorities articulated in the UNCRC (1989); the World Programme of Action for Youth, 2000 and Beyond; the Report of the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development; the Declaration of Paramaribo on the future of youth in the Caribbean Community; the CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan and the Caribbean Development Bank’s Youth Policy and Operational Strategy, among others.

Some key areas of research include:

  • Child rights and policy development
  • Social justice and care for youth
  • Youth economic participation, empowerment and employability
  • Youth culture and resilience
  • Youth participation and civic and political engagement
  • Gender, identity, sexuality and youth
  • Adolescence wellbeing and youth development
  • Leadership, mentoring and prosocial development 
  • Assessment and evaluation of youth development interventions


  • Dr. Talia Esnard (Chair)-Sociology
  • Dr. Henry Charles (Co-Chair)-Social Policy
  • Dr. Christine Descartes (Developmental Psychology)
  • Dr. Cheryl Ann Boodram (Social Work)
  • Dr. Camille Cummings (Sociology)
  • Dr.Tyehimba Salandy ( Sociology)
  • Ms Samantha Thomas (Master of Social Work)
  • Keisha Samlal (PhD Sociology, candidate)
  • Fareena Alladin (PhD Sociology, candidate)
  • Onika Noreiga (Mphil Sociology, candidate)
  • Tracy Ann King, Msc. Child and Youth Studies


Badiali, B., & Titus, N. E. (2010). Co-teaching: Enhancing student learning through mentor intern partnerships. School-University Partnerships, 4(2), 74-80.

Bova, B. (2000). Mentoring revisited The Black woman’s experience. Mentoring and Tutoring Partnership in Learning 8(1), 5-16.  

Casadevall, A., & Fang, F. C. (2012). Reforming science: methodological and cultural reforms. Infection and Immunity, 80, 891-896. 

Galbraith, M. W. (2003). The adult education professor as mentor: A means to enhance teaching and learning. Perspectives: The New York Journal of Adult Learning, 1(1), 9-20.

Paglis, L., L., Green, S. G., & Bauer, T. N. (2006). Does adviser mentoring add value? A longitudinal study of mentoring and doctoral student outcomes. Research in Higher Education, 47(4), 451-476. 


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